Iron Fish Distillery expands Michigan operations, to begin distributing in Colorado and more

What’s happening: Fresh off its sixth anniversary party this most recent Labor Day weekend, the Iron Fish Distillery in Springdale Township still has plenty of reasons to celebrate. The distillery used that occasion to launch its Mad Angler brand of estate whiskies, while also announcing approximately $900,000 in new equipment and facility improvements. And this fall, Iron Fish will begin distributing in California, Colorado, Illinois, and Indiana, expanding on its current territory of Michigan and Wisconsin.

The recently released Mad Angler brand of estate whiskies.What it is: Iron Fish Distillery is Michigan’s first farm distillery and one of approximately 50 such distilleries in the country. Iron Fish grows their own grain and distills their spirits from their 120-acre farm along the Betsie River in rural Springdale Township. Theirs is a product line-up that includes gin, vodka, and a variety of whiskies. The distillery, tasting room, and farm have become quite the destination, attracting more than 125,000 visitors each year. Iron Fish operates a third party environmentally-verified farm through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.

Expansion news: The $900,000 expansion will allow the distillery to triple their production capacity. Private investment and bank financing was supplemented with a loan from the Manistee County EDC and a $55,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Iron Fish will also increase the amount of grain they purchase from other Michigan farms, growing that number from six to 10 farms, resulting in 725,000 pounds of grain purchased annually.

“Our expansion is possible because Michigan consumers and retailers are embracing local, and this project will dramatically increase our ability to source ingredients from Michigan growers in the production of our spirits and food and beverage offerings,” says Richard Anderson, co-owner of Iron Fish Distillery.

Celebrating collaboration: On Saturday, Oct. 29, Iron Fish Distillery will host the first annual Barrel-Aged Brew Fest, presented by the Big Bear Sportsman’s Club. Earlier this year, Iron Fish Distillery sent their whiskey barrels to more than a dozen Michigan breweries. Those breweries will be on hand at the event, proudly sharing their barrel-aged beer, cider, and mead with guests. All proceeds will go to the Big Bear Sportsman’s Club, which provides outdoor activities and programming for rural Northern Michigan kids.

Beyond Michigan: “Generally speaking, we're always gonna sell the most in our home state. But these other state expansions actually help fuel what we’re doing in our home state, and it grows what we can do in our own backyard,” says Jesse Den Herder, creative marketing director for Iron Fish Distillery. “Somewhere like Colorado wouldn't normally be the first move we make (usually it would be neighboring states), but we just had a lot of a lot of people that wanted it and we're excited about it. So we decided to make a move there.”

Iron Fish Distillery is located at 14234 Dzuibanek Rd. in Thompsonville.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.